ROME — Never has humanity been so united as now by a coronavirus that “knows no borders,” the preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, said on Good Friday.
Preaching before Pope Francis in an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica while live-streaming to Catholics watching the service on the Internet, Father Cantalamessa said the world is living in a watershed moment that will change human life forever.
“When, in the memory of humanity, have the people of all nations ever felt themselves so united, so equal, so less in conflict than at this moment of pain?” he said.
“We have forgotten about building walls. The virus knows no borders,” Cantalamessa said. “In an instant it has broken down all the barriers and distinctions of race, nation, religion, wealth, and power. We should not revert to that prior time when this moment has passed.”
“Let us not allow so much pain, so many deaths, and so much heroic engagement on the part of health workers to have been in vain,” he added. “Returning to the way things were is the ‘recession’ we should fear the most.”
The Capuchin priest said the virus has shaken humanity out of a delusion of power.
“The pandemic of Coronavirus has abruptly roused us from the greatest danger individuals and humanity have always been susceptible to: the delusion of omnipotence,” he said. “It took merely the smallest and most formless element of nature, a virus, to remind us that we are mortal, that military power and technology are not sufficient to save us.”
Father Cantalamessa also took the occasion to urge leaders to put an end to the arms race and to spend as much money as necessary on health care and environmental care, even if it means leaving less to successive generations.
“Let us say ‘Enough!’ to the tragic race toward arms. Say it with all your might, you young people, because it is above all your destiny that is at stake,” he said. “Let us devote the unlimited resources committed to weapons to the goals that we now realize are most necessary and urgent: health, hygiene, food, the fight against poverty, stewardship of creation.”
“Let us leave to the next generation a world poorer in goods and money, if need be, but richer in its humanity,” he said.